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Daily Times Editorial 11 July 2020

Naya Pakistan Housing Project concerns


The prime minister’s idea of a construction sector led revival of the economy is an interesting one, since the sector does breathe life into 40-plus associated industries once it gets going, and in this way income and employment can be generated pretty much across the board. Yet the idea of sprinkling a Rs30 billion subsidy on the Naya Pakistan Housing Program (NPHP), that too for the first 100,000 houses constructed only, might leave just a little to be desired as far as the bigger picture is concerned. And it’s good that banks have been instructed to give concessional loans for the project, but that too might run into a couple of roadblocks in the future. For one thing, a lot of the people that these low-cost houses are meant for are unbanked and simply do not qualify for bank loans under the present conditions.
For another, banks are still going to have problems with advancing loans for this project considering that our country remains one of the few, even in the region, without proper foreclosure laws. Banks usually have no problem with lending for such a landmark program, but with the likelihood of a large number of people eventually defaulting on their loans — which their risk management systems are bound to factor in – and the fact that there is no way they can claim the property because the courts won’t allow them, their position does become a little difficult. And that is precisely what has made them hesitant about lending too much to the housing sector in any circumstances. Even Asian countries like Vietnam, Indonesia, Bangladesh and India have made a lot of progress with their own housing projects because they put the necessary laws in place at the right time. Yet Pakistan has lagged behind, to the point that there are more houses being constructed in New Delhi alone right now than the whole of Pakistan.
The last thing anybody, especially the government, would want is for the usual buyers-sellers to take advantage of the NPHP just because it was always out of reach of the really deserving people. That way all these subsidies and special loans would only go to further bloating the players that have exploited this market since forever. So, while the government’s special attention is always welcome, and there is indeed nothing like construction to give the whole economy a good push, it is still hoped that a little more proper work will be done before the money is thrown around. *


UN report on drone strikes


It says a lot, surely, that United Nation’s (UN’s) latest report on drone strikes spoke at length – almost half of it – about the killing of the famous Iranian Revolutionary Guard commander, General Qassem Soleimani, in Iraq in January this year along with an Iraqi commander and about a dozen other people.
More surprisingly still, the UN has finally gathered the will to call a spade a spade, it seems, and denounced the attack as willful murder and an arbitrary killing, which of course is a clear violation of international human rights law. It also said that since the Iraqi government was not informed in advance, the attack also violated the sovereignty of the country.
Yet however much a shift in the UN’s way of doing things all this suggests, the day is sadly very far when any international body would be able to make the US pay for its many war crimes and human rights violations. General Soleimani’s killing provides the perfect example. It happened because Iran did what nobody is supposed to do to a sole superpower; that is defy it. There is no possible way in the world that Iran can be a threat to the American nation, militarily or economically. It is a problem because it stands in the way of Israel’s ambitions in the Middle East, and since most campaigns in Washington are heavily financed and influenced by the powerful Jewish lobby, which is hardly a secret any longer, everybody knows just why Iran has been sanctioned and why its leaders are always in Washington’s crosshairs.
Iraq’s case is different but it teaches the same lesson. The Americans literally destroyed that country because a hunch, which very few people believed at the time and was ultimately proved wrong, that the country possessed weapons of mass destruction (WMDs) was used to remove a head of state of an oil rich country that refused to do business with the so called developed western world.
It just didn’t matter that a few million people got killed in the process. Libya’s Colonel Gaddafi, whatever sort of leader he might have been, was also cut by a crowd in broad daylight for similar reasons. And it’s just a sad, pathetic fact that everybody in the world knows about the real motives behind these wars, which is to secure the world’s resources and exercise influence over key geographical routes, yet everybody is forced to fall in line and pay lip service to all the lies that are used to justify all the barbarity.
The UN’s call about drone strikes, openly questioning America’s decisions, is still a welcome step forward.
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